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guns in america. >> having more guns does not solve the problem. >> my exclusive with a woman who grew up a scientologist, how she says she escaped. this is piers morgan tonight. good evening. gun advocates have been telling me for months that i don't know what it is like to shoot a gun and that i therefore have no business expressing any opinion on guns. i disagree with that premise. but i now know exactly what it's like to shoot an ar-15 assault rifle. and for that matter, a browning m-2 machine gun. both of which astonishingly are
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completely legal. i can tell you that none of that has changed my opinion on guns. if anything, it's made it stronger. tonight i'll be talking to people on all sides of this raging debate. we begin with exclusive details on an extraordinary rescue of a nearly 6-year-old boy who was held hostage in a backyard bunker in alabama. since he's so young, we're using his first name, ethan. he was released from a hospital just a while ago. and we honor the life of the bus driver who gave his life to protect all the children. martin savidge is on the scene with new details. joining me exclusively is cindy steiner one of ethan's close neighbors. dramatic information coming out through the latter part of today involving various bombs that the now-deceased kidnapper had planted. what can you tell me about what we now know about this? >> well, you know, it's a very chilling reminder, piers, of just how dangerous this whole
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situation was, especially when this dramatic rescue was carried out by federal agents. how much danger they face and how much danger 5-year-old ethan faced because now authorities are saying as they went through the bunker in the aftermath, they've found one explosive device inside of the bunker and they found another located inside a pvc pipe which at one point was being used as a means to communicate. quite shocking to realize that those two explosive devices were there as the authorities raided. >> do we know what triggered the final assault by the fbi? and there are reports that there was some kind of shoot-out with the kidnapper. can you confirm that? >> right, yeah. the fbi is confirming that. they described it as -- i believe the term they used is "firefight," which again is another terrifying aspect considering it's an extremely enclosed small space in which this is all happening. there you've got a 5-year-old little boy. but what we know is that the last 24 hours beginning sunday afternoon apparently the negotiations have been going
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back and forth between dykes in his bunker and fbi authorities began to deteriorate. they felt that dykes' demeanor was deteriorating. he was becoming less and less coherent. and they also at one point saw that he had a gun and was apparently using that gun, gesturing with that gun in a way that made them feel the young boy was threatened. that's when the line was crossed. that's when those who were rehearsing the plan was ready to go. one blew the roof of the bunker, one or two agents immediately dropped inside. that's when the firefight broke out. dykes was shot several times, he died. as we know ethan was unharmed, he was rescued and reunited with his family. >> great credit to the fbi for their patience and the brilliant way they got this little boy out of their unscathed. martin, thank you very much for now. i want to turn to cindy steiner, she's a very close friend and neighbor of ethan's mother and knows the family extremely well. before i talk to you, i want to
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read a statement from ethan's mother. it's very moving. she's asked not be identified. for the first time in almost a week i woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight. my sweet boy. i can't describe how incredible it ito hold him again. ethan is safe and back in my arms and i owe it to some of the most compassionate people on earth. i will never be able to repay those who helped bring ethan home. you can only imagine how she's feeling. you know better than most, cindy, because you've been with her for most of the week. how is ethan? how is his mother? >> she is -- right now she's wonderful. now, i talked to her the day before yesterday, and she told me that she was just about on her last -- she said she can't take it no more. right now she's doing good. >> ethan is 6 years old tomorrow. it will be a pretty special birthday for him. have you seen ethan yet? do you know how he is?
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>> no, i haven't seen him yet. another good friend of both of ours has seen him. he says he looks really good, he's laughing and joking and being ethan. >> the moment that you heard he was okay, where were you and how soon did you speak to ethan's mother afterwards? >> i was actually working and was in troy, alabama. as soon as i heard about it, all i could do was break down and cry and say thank you, jesus. by the time i got home, i was screaming. it was just -- it was just -- i didn't talk to her yesterday. so i'm sure hopefully tomorrow i'll be talking to her. >> a terrifying thing for everybody in the community. clearly as more details emerge about this kidnapper, jimmy lee dykes, the more sinister he seems. he seems to have been just this awful accident waiting to happen. >> yeah.
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my grandson, oldest grandson was also on that bus. and he told me that this man, jimmy, had been on that road two or three times watching the school bus. >> so you think he was plotting this all the time? >> i do. i do. and i had also heard -- i was at the laundromat there in midland city sunday, and they had told us that jimmy had been in there a couple of days earlier and had lost some money in one of the machines, and they said he went just absolutely berserk. >> you said that ethan's mother has been finding this incredibly difficult, as any parent would. what have you been able to do in the last week to try and bring her any kind of comfort? >> we have prayed a lot together, we have talked, we have cried together, we've hugged. she's -- she's pretty strong herself. ethan's done an awesome job, but
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i have to -- my hat goes off to her, too. >> well, it's an amazing, miraculous story. i'm so glad it's ended happily for ethan and his mother and for you and for everyone in the community. you must all be absolutely ecstatic. i thank you for joining me tonight. >> thank you. today would have been trayvon martin's 18th birthday. he was the unarmed teenager shot last year in a confrontation with george zimmerman. his attorney's request to delay the murder trial. joining me is george zimmerman's brother robert zimmerman. welcome back. >> thanks for having me again, piers. >> what is your reaction to what happened today? >> i want to start tonight, piers, by speaking if i can for a moment about the importance of the significance of this date. today would have been trayvon martin's 18th birthday. i know that today, just as
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george's attorney expressed in court, trayvon martin's family has a very special burden to carry. i want them to know that that's not absent from our mind now, and it never has been, regardless of any circumstances that surrounded that night, february 26th. i know today is an especially trying time for all of them. so i want to start out tonight by saying that i also want to start out right away by letting the world know and america know that disparaging the memory of trayvon martin is in any way, shape or form is not acceptable. it is unnecessary and doesn't contribute in a positive way to the outcome in this case for justice and our family won't stand for it. but as for how i feel about court specifically, obviously, i would support mark's arguments that he made in court. i agree with him wholeheartedly. i'm a little disappointed by what happened. >> just to clarify, mark o'meara is the attorney for your brother, just to clarify that.
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>> correct, yes. and i think he made very compelling arguments both in writing in his motion and today when he readdressed the court after mr. dealerianda. if trial will go forth june 10th as it's on the schedule now, then it will be a prepared attorney that represents my brother. we all want closure in this case, but we do want george to get a fair trial. >> what it is going to be now clearly is a national examination of the stand your ground law. at least 19 states have a version of this. what is your view about the longevity of stand your ground as a law in america in any state after this case? >> i think that there's two things that come to mind immediately. number one is i'm glad that it is brought to the forefront of people's minds. it's about half the country
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roughly that has these kinds of laws or laws similar. what makes florida's special is that florida exonerates you from civil liability when you're found to be exonerated from criminal prosecution or liability by a judge. that means that if you are in a situation where a judge finds that you should not be tried by a jury because there's overwhelming evidence to support your innocence in a situation where you defended yourself, you're not dragged through the civil courts for years and years and years. the other thing is that i think that it should be in this gun debate very relevant to people who own guns or carry guns who might not have found themselves in george's situation to now have at the forefront of their minds the reality of what can happen when you are armed. whether your weapon is concealed or whether your weapon is carried openly like they are in open carry states, the reality is that we need to become more familiar with the laws that
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govern our states and how that varies from state to state and what can happen to us if we're in a similar situation. >> i want to come back to you after the break. i want to talk about the proposals for gun control. you don't agree with most of it. i want to find out after the break. >> sure. this is america.
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back with robert zimmerman jr., the brother of the man who shot trayvon martin. let's talk about gun control. you've seen the president's measures that he wants to put forward, over 30 of them. you, i believe, object to any assault weapons ban. explain to me why. >> piers, what i object to is the government doing -- enacting these bans and speaking to all of america, all 50 states as if some kind of broad brush measure is going to address every situation in every state. you've brought up connecticut
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many times where assault rifles like an ar-15 was banned. >> they were and that's the point. ar-15s are not banned in connecticut. >> criminals don't -- >> here's the point. even though connecticut has the fifth strongest gun control in america, the ar-15 was not banned. i want to show you a bit of footage from last night when i was in texas of me firing an ar-15. let's watch this. >> great. >> here's the thing. as i began to fire it, i thought, okay, this is the speed it fires. then i got into the rhythm with the trigger, and suddenly i began pumping out these bullets at this extraordinary rate and power. all i could think of, to be honest with you, robert, is what on earth did those poor kids at sandy hook have to go through? they each was hit by 3 to 11 bullets. then i thought about the movie theater in aurora where the
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shooter there, holmes, used an ar-15 with a 100-bullet magazine and unleashed it in more than a minute. i thought what on earth are these weapons doing in civilian hands? what is your answer? >> right. to your point, piers, what you're saying in effect is that even though there's very restrictive gun laws, they don't matter in the hands of a madman. i mean, guns don't fire themselves. unfortunately what we need to ban is turning a blind eye on the mental health crisis that we have in this country. that's what really needs to be banned. bans don't work. when i purchased my guns, i went in the state of virginia, i was checked instantly as instant background checks are available in virginia, and i was given a gun. i never thought in my mind i'm going to go solve my problem with a gun. i don't think you would. i would shoot a gun with you at any gun range -- >> but my point is you have so many of these flash points in america, the story yesterday of a neighbor who shot down and
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killed two of his neighbors with a gun because their dog messed on his porch. and this is the kind of story that i see -- i follow this account on twitter called @gundeaths. it reports every shooting in america as it gets reported. it's terrifying. just kind of indiscriminate slaughter of americans on a daily basis on average. 35 a day. here's the thing i would put to you. you would accept, had you not, that if your brother had not gone out armed with a gun that day, trayvon martin would be celebrating his 18th birthday today. he'd be alive. >> no, i wouldn't accept that, piers, because tense of millions of americans own gunses and many throughout america are required to conceal their weapons. so that means that when you have a concealed carry permit, if you don't live in an open carry state. for example, florida is not an open carry state. you're required to conceal your gun. now we're not going to have time in that segment -- >> but you're not required to carry one.
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>> when you do carry a gun, you're required to conceal it. >> the chicken and the egg. my point is that if george had not been carrying a gun that night, trayvon martin would be celebrating his 18th birthday with his family today. trayvon martin had simply gone up to the store to buy a packet of skittles, then gone back to see his dad. my question to you is if your brother had not gone out with a gun that night, you must surely accept that trayvon martin would still be alive? >> there's no telling what would have happened. we don't know if we would have been commemorating shortly the one-year anniversary that george was another statistic, another person killed at the hands of an unknown attacker. you can only slam someone's head violently and on to concrete. you can only break someone's nose before someone has to take action. >> again slightly missing the point because it was your brother who was pursuing trayvon.
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so obviously trayvon was trying just to go home to see his father. >> i think it's a shame that you repeat that and also jonathan capehart and other journalists like charles m. blow. it relies on this line of "was pursuing." it is not consistent with evidence that george was pursuing. what is consistent and what you did the first time i was on your air was you cut off his phone call when you said, okay, we don't need you to do that, okay. what that means is when someone says, okay, he ran and i can't see him. that means that that person is gone from their sight. that means that the pursuit or alleged pursuit is over at that point and if you really want to -- >> here's the thing, robert, all this will emerge now in the trial. we know that. i'm very aware it's a very complicated situation. but clearly we can only go on what we heard in the public domain where your brother was clearly told to not follow and clearly ends up following. >> no, that's absolutely -- that's a falsehood and it is absolutely not true.
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what you should be understanding and be apprised of are the actual facts. when you say you understand, that implies that you were there somehow. and you're starting to sound like toure. i'm sorry about the delay, but what i've said is the evidence has not contradicted the statements of george and not the statements he made to the police or the statements he made to his family. >> brother robert, you were not there either, were you? >> no, i wasn't there either, but i know the person telling the story better than you do. >> okay. well, you're putting your brother's side and i totally accept that's what a brother would do. but neither of us were there. >> and that's precisely why it's irresponsible to assert that in fact the pursuit continued. that's precisely why. >> i understand that. of course, it's equally unfair of you to presume the opposite. so we both in the end will have a view about this, we'll see what happens. >> sure. >> but i appreciate you coming
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on the show tonight. >> thanks for having me again, piers. >> it is a complicated case. we now know there will be a court hearing in june. hopefully we'll find out the answers. i want to bring in a man who knows the toll of gun violence in america. you helped to save the life of gabby giffords after she was shot in the head in 2011. he's the author of an aptly named book "they call me hero." welcome back daniel hernandez. i went to texas yesterday, i fired some of these guns. i was frankly just staggered by the speed and power of these ar-15s and the ease with which i could fire one, having never used one before. the accuracy. god forbid what would have happened if the shooter in your incident had been able to use one of those. i think it would have been a mass slaughter of a much more devastating scale. and that's why i feel so strongly about it. what is your view? >> you know, for me, it was a really interesting situation two years ago being there when the young man used a semiautomatic
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glock, but the problem was he used an extended magazine. that is one of the things that was really the difference. whereas he would have had to reload three separate times if he had a standard magazine with ten clips, he had one. when he was stopped was when he was trying to reload and pat, who is in her 60s, grabbed it and wouldn't let go. >> but if he had an ar-15 -- >> a hundred clips in a magazine. >> and if it didn't jam -- >> blasted everyone. and that's i think the big issue. the easy accessibility of these weapons that are not fully automatic. they're semiautomatic. but as you saw when you were in texas, a semiautomatic weapon is still pretty darn fast. it can cause so much damage in such a small amount of time, the numbers we've gotten from tucson were about 19 seconds. that's how long it took for 30 people to be affected, 6 of them dying. >> in aurora 70 people hit in seconds. incredible. yet these are not deemed assault weapons by many people. that's a fanciful and ridiculous thing to say because they most definitely are.
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in terms of the political debate because in tend this is what it's going to get down to. one of the politicians have to get a stomach for. already it's being spun out that there can be no ban on assault weapons because the democrats in the senate aren't going to wear it. who are these people and why won't they wear this? >> one of the things that happened was seeing gabby last week at the senate hearing and saying, we need you to be brave and courageous because americans are counting on you, but the problem has been we have democrats in places like arizona who are afraid to touch this issue because they're so petrified that if they come out and say, we want to have responsible and commonsense changes to gun safety laws, they'll be hammered back at home as being anti-gun. i come from arizona. it's a place that has a shooting culture. i've gone hunting with my dad. i had my own weapon when i was younger. but it's a part of our culture that we don't like to talk about and don't really like to take it head-on. that's the serious discussion
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that needs to happen right now. with the new group that the congresswoman has started and the mayor's campaign working on this issue that we'll have more brave members of congress and more brave senators saying i'm not going to keep passing the buck and i'll take this issue head-on. >> i completely agree. it's a fascinating book "they call me a hero." you were a hero. gabby is almost certainly alive because of your actions that day. and continue to fight the good night and make your views well and truly known and loudly. >> thank you for having me on. coming up, the church of scientology and the woman who knows all of its secrets. jenna miscavige. so...how'd it go? well, dad, i spent my childhood living with monks learning the art of dealmaking. you've mastered monkey-style kung fu?
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no. priceline is different now. you don't even have to bid. master hahn taught you all that? oh, and he says to say (translated from cantonese) "you still owe him five bucks." your accent needs a little work.
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you're young, you're old, you're powerful beyond measure and the fuel of that power is not magical mysticism, but knowledge. the thing us see, the things you feel, the things you know to be true. some will doubt you. let them. there to think for yourself, to look for yourself, to make up your own mind. because in the eternal debate for answers, the one thing
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that's true is what's true for you. >> that was a commercial. the church of scientology paid millions to run during the super bowl. it credits among its followers tom cruise and john travolta. what is it like inside? jenna miscavige hill is the author of "beyond belief: my secret life inside scientology and my harrowing escape." she joins me now. a fascinating story. a fascinating book. >> thank you. >> when you read it -- and i will talk to you a bit later about whether there's any doubt in your mind that your recollection is correct because it's pretty shocking. >> mm-hmm. >> but taking it as read, it paints a very disturbing picture of what appears to be a very abusive religious style sect. would you concur with that overview? >> yes, absolutely. very much so. >> you were effectively coerced
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into this as a young child. at the age of 7 you sign a billion year contract, which sounds ludicrous. what is that? >> it's basically -- well, the contract is for the scientology organization called the sea-org organization. >> known as sea-org, this is the higher level of scientology. >> scientology's most dedicated followers, run like a paramilitary organization. the people in the sea-org, they all sign billion year contracts, and they work seven days a week for little to no pay, and they live communally and they're not allowed to have children. >> the pictures that the scientology sent us -- they claim this was of the time you were there. they all seem pretty pictures of what look like a nice holiday camp. but what is the reality of this?
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>> the reality is that like these pictures, like, you know, these are all rows that we dug, all plants that we planted. this horse corral, i raked every week. that's what we did. >> you were a young child, you were 7, then 8. how long were you doing this for? >> from when i was 6 until i was 12. >> would you call it child labor? >> absolutely, it was. >> how many hours a day would you have to do this? >> we did the labor for four hours a day every day except on saturdays we did it all day. but in addition to the labor, we also had our own individual duties which we did for several hours a day. >> how much of your parents were you allowed to see? >> we saw our parents once a week, and it was overnight on saturday and for a few hours on sunday morning. >> how did it feel to you at the time? did it feel normal because you were around everybody else doing the same thing? >> yeah, i mean, it was normal. that's all that i knew, but i
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also felt like sad about it, but i felt like i wasn't normal for feeling that way. >> your parents eventually break out of the church, but you're left in there. how did that feel to you? >> well, at the time it was my decision to stay. you know, unfortunately, i hadn't seen my parents throughout so mu of my life. i mean, from when i was 12 until i was 18, i saw my mom two times the entire time. >> in six years? >> yes, yes. when i was a child. and so by the time they wanted to leave, i had sort of built my life around my friends, and i was brainwashed. you know, that's -- the church was my life. and i wanted to stay there. >> your uncle, david miscavige, is the leader of the church of scientology. did you have much to do with him during this period? >> i mean, i definitely saw him throughout. i had a closer relationship with his wife, my aunt shelly. and i definitely spent many -- i definitely saw her far more than i saw my own mom. >> is he an evil man?
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>> yes. i mean, as you'll read in my book, like, he has both sides, though. you know, like when i was younger growing up, you know, you sort of see a different side of him, but then you see how things gradually change. and i don't know if that was the evolution of his personality or if it was how he, you know, talked to me as a child and then as i became an adult. >> in terms of the evil manifested itself, how would you articulate that? >> i mean, as a child, you know, of course, the labor that we've already, you know, spoken about, but i would say the worst part of scientology is that, you know, it's their doctrine or the highway. if you don't agree with scientology teachings, you either have a word that you don't understand or it's because you've done something bad. which is what is so ironic about that super bowl ad. it talks about how, you know,
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seekers of knowledge and think for yourself, but you can't think for yourself when you're there. >> a fascinating part of this where you have chinese lessons. >> right. >> which are not necessarily lessons in how to speak chinese, but based on what l. ron hubbard, the founder of scientology, discovered when he went to china. >> basically we're required to repeat from l. ron hubbard's works in unison. they would have a big piece of butcher paper and you would read from those, then we had to learn it so well we could do it without the paper there. >> he'd gone to china and he'd seen this happening in chinese schools and liked the idea of it? >> yes, he thought that was an effective way of teaching, i guess. but essentially we were learning things and to learn them verbatim without examining the information. >> you feel completely brainwashed? >> when i look back, definitely.
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i didn't know what i liked or what kind of person i was. i was just basically a robot of the church. >> let's take a break. let's come back and talk about the celebrity aspect of this. because tom cruise, john travolta and others have tried to make it sound like a really sexy thing to be part of, but there's clearly a sinister side to this. i wonder if celebrities got treated differently to people like you.
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i think it's a privilege to call yourself a scientologist. it's something that you have to earn because scientologist does, he or she has the ability to create new and better realities and improve conditions. >> tom cruise praising the church of scientology. i'm back with my prime time exclusive with former member jenna miscavige hill, daughter of leader david miscavige. let us read this statement from the church of scientology. it was quite lengthy. the church will not discuss private matters involving ms. hill nor any of the efforts to exploit mr. miscavige's name. we note that the recollections in her book about thing were dramatically at odds with 30 of her classmates.
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the church has not engaged in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force child to engage in manual labor. the church follows all laws with respect to children. claims to the contrary are false. you're telling a bunch of lies, apparently. >> of course they're going to say that. they're still in the church. that's all they've known. but it would be interesting to find out from the church how many of those kids actually have a high school diploma, how many of them have gone to college. i would be shocked if it was even more than ten of the kids at the ranch, i would be shocked if it was ten at all. >> do they let anyone go on the ranch at all, the outsiders? >> the church sold the property, so they no longer own it. >> presumably they have other places like this elsewhere? >> yeah, but the church has a rule that sea-org members can't have children. so the numbers of children that are there have gradually dwindled down. >> let's talk about the celebrity aspect of this.
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tom cruise and john travolta have made efforts to make it sound great, the scientology church. what is your reaction to tom cruise when you hear him speak like that? >> i mean, i think that either he does know what's going on and he's not talking about it or he is willfully ignorant about it. people who endorse an organization like this, i feel they have a responsibility to know everything about it and know what they're endorsing. >> and what is fascinating is your husband, dallas, who you met when you were still in the church, he worked at the celebrity scientology center in los angeles. and from what i can tell in the book, completely different environment to noncelebrity workplaces that the scientology church had. tell me about the distinction. >> i mean, obviously, the church itself is much nicer. a much more beautiful church.
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i mean, yes, celebrities have their own private entrances. you know, there's beautiful restaurants there. they have their own classrooms. >> any child labor? >> things like that you wouldn't run across there. things that are not dealt with at that church. so members from there who get in trouble, they get sent to another location to be dealt with. so they would never run into that sort of thing and be like, oh, what's happening there? >> do you think these celebrities are being duped? >> i think that partially, and you know, i mean, this information is out there. it's on the internet. it's on tv. and so, you know, it is out there. so part of it, you know, must be some sort of willful ignorance. >> at one stage the church tried to separate you and dallas, your now husband, when they found out what was going on, and you felt suicidal. you were on the verge of committing suicide. tell me about that. >> yeah, well, actually, they had hidden him away in a basement where they were trying to purge him of his evil
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intentions with their confessional. and wouldn't tell me where he was. and i was looking for him desperately. and you know, finally i basically used the only leverage i had over them, which was their fear of bad publicity if i basically jumped out the window. and it was the only thing that ever worked, you know? i found out where my husband -- or my now husband was. and so i mean, it was crazy, but -- >> you eventually got out of the church in 2005. you and dallas are still together. you have a couple of children, i think? >> yes, yeah. >> you've will a lot of vitriol from the church of scientology for being a whistle blower like this. the unique aspect of your testimony is that your uncle runs the church of scientology. have you had any feedback from him since you left? >> no, he hasn't spoken to me since i left. >> what about any of his immediate family? >> no, i mean -- well, i mean,
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my dad -- i mean, not the scientology ones. >> but you're still in touch with your parents. >> yes, yes. >> do they have any contact with him, with david miscavige? >> no. >> nothing at all? a complete disconnect because they left the church, too. >> not since i left. yeah. >> so basically once you're out of the church, as far as he's concerned, that's it? >> there was some contact with him while i was still in there because they wanted to see me and that sort of thing, but since i left there's not been any. >> what should happen to the church of scientology? >> i mean, it should be exposed for the organization that it is. it should not be allowed to do things that are illegal or abusive. >> and to people who are watching this and saying, well, how do we know she's telling the truth, what do you say to them? >> i mean, read my book. and again, i mean, obviously i couldn't have a tape recorder or take pictures of myself while i was doing manual labor, but there are things that would be more independent like do any of the children there have high school diplomas? have they moved on to college? those sort of things that could
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actually be looked into. >> and of course nobody would know better than your own husband, dallas, who was in there with you or speed your parents. >> yes, exactly. >> final question. has it been hard to repair the relationship with your parents given that it was almost nonexistent for those young years? >> i've definitely had questions about it and certain things that i didn't understand, but in the end, you know, i understand better than anyone what it's like to be brainwashed and controlled by the church. and you know, i mean, you can't change the past. the important thing is that both of my parents are amazing grandparents, and that's all i could ask for. >> jenna, it's a riveting book, i've got to say. "my secret life inside scientology." glad you're out of it. and your evidence as i would put it in this book is very compelling and it's down to the church to answer some pretty serious question, i think. thank you for coming in. >> thank you very much.
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in the wake of sandy hook, should america's schools be protected by armed guards? i'll ask controversial reformer michelle rhee. but she loved it so much... i told her it was homemade. everyone tells a little white lie now and then. but now she wants my recipe [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
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the nra wants armed guards
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in every school in america. will it make america's kids safer? i can't think of a better person to ask. michelle rhee. the former schools chancellor washington, d.c. is out with a new book. "radical, fighting to put students first." welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> obviously, if the kids aren't safe, the rest of it is kind of superfluous. what is your view about the various views put forward? >> you're absolutely right. it is preeminent importance we make sure kids are in a safe and secure environment in our schools. we have to ensure that's happening. i think part of the problem with the dialogue that's happening today is that it's very sort of polarized to these extreme, right. so let's arm everyone. the teachers, the kids, you know. versus not. and i think that instead of sort of polarizing the debate, we have to have a very balanced conversation. having armed people in schools
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doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to have better outcomes. in the columbine tragedy, there were armed guards actually. >> a lot of armed people around. >> that's right, it didn't stop that from happen. that's not going to solve all of our problems. and that's why -- >> do you like the idea guns around children generally? >> absolutely not. >> i interviewed -- i met them, but it wasn't aired. it was two young female teachers in texas, in houston, both of whom wanted to have a conceal carry permit for themselves because they felt they needed one for personal safety but they hated the idea of any guns in the school. >> yeah. >> they're in an elementary school. >> my organization, students first, is not a gun control organization. >> no. >> but what i can say as a parent is that it does make me nervous, the idea of having guns in classrooms, where kids could potentially access them is something we've really got to think about. >> let's turn to the book. "radical fighting to put students first." it shouldn't than radical. to many people it is. i remember the opening of "newsroom" the hbo drama series
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about news. there's the anchor reading off a lecture of other students of shocking statistics of where america is now in many places. this is based on a 2000 9 study. 25th in math. 17th in science. 4th in reading. i mean, for the supposed great superpower of the world, these are shameful statistics. ahead of the u.s. in almost every category, china, korea, japan, much of northern europe. something has to be done, doesn't it? >> absolutely. in fact, it's not just china and korea. we're 25th in math and countries like hungary and slovakia are ahead of us. that is a significant problem. and i think that people are not realizing that we are falling further and further behind in this way. and so the fact that for example education wasn't a primary issue in the presidential debate i think is extraordinarily problematic.
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because i realize the focus is on the economy and jobs, but we're not going to regain our position in the global marketplace till we fix our public education. >> i hear the president talking about it as being a priority but i don't see a lot of evidence of it being a priority. >> well, it certainly wasn't in the presidential campaign. you did not hear the candidates really talking about the education policy issues. and i think that was problematic. >> what do you want to see done? putting students first sounds a great idea till you have to somehow -- you've got 120,000 schools in america. >> right. >> what are the overview bullet points you would like to see happen which could radically change america's education system to start making it more competitive? >> so there are three primary things we focus on at students first. the first is making sure there's a highly effective teacher in front of every child every single day. the second area is -- >> you got to pay them more to get that kind of teacher? >> well, teachers don't go into the profession because of the money. >> i think too many of them may leave if they feel disincentivized, right?
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>> teachers today, even though they have one of the most important jobs in the country, do not feel recognized or rewarded for the work they're doing every day. i was talking to my husband who is a former basketball player, professional basketball player. and i said when you think about it it's really crazy we live in a society where basketball players get paid $20 million a year for dribbling a basketball around the court. we should be paying the highest performance teachers in this country $20 million because they are impacting the future. >> i totally agree with that. >> we have to empower parents with information. and the third is we have to focus on where the dollars are being spent. we are spending more money per kid than almost any other country internationally and yet our results have remained relatively stagnant. >> a lot of money clearly being wasted. >> absolutely. >> it's got to be sorted out.
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it's a great book. i couldn't wish for more. i've got four kids. i want them all to read it. teachers ought to read it. nice to see you. michelle rhee. tomorrow, the man who predicted a landslide victory for mitt romney. he will sit down with me tomorrow night exclusively. i can't wait for this. we'll be right back. oh! progress-oh! [ female announcer ] with 40 delicious progresso soups at 100 calories or less, there are plenty of reasons people are saying "progress-oh!" share your progress-oh! story on facebook.
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Piers Morgan Tonight
CNN February 6, 2013 12:00am-1:00am PST

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